Exploring Hope

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Abstract

This paper has emerged out of a consultation held in Oxford to consider the relevance of the Christian message of hope in the face of global environmental crisis. For many Christians, hope has moved from being a proximate hope that we might change our behaviour, to an eschatological hope, as behaviour and policy change are becoming frustratingly hard to secure. It is recognised that this crisis of hope not only applies to environmental issues but also issues of poverty. The author considers our role as hopeful disciples living between proximate and ultimate hope. He uses Ricoeur’s ‘knot of reality’ to explore the interconnection between suffering, faithfulness and the promises of God. The link between catastrophe, judgment, endurance, and hope are examined. A number of key Bible passages are considered in outline and Col. 1:15-20 and Rom. 8:18-23 are examined in more depth, along with some passages from Genesis and Isaiah.

Church leaders who are aware of the environmental crisis, need to improve their communication to motivate Christians to take seriously the care for creation and for the poor. Drawing on the work of Walsh and Keesmaat, the author calls Christians to be countercultural. The Church can bring the signs of hope and these are found in community.

This requires action that embodies Christian virtues. These point to a renewal of creation and show that we are caught up in a bigger story. Our ultimate hope is always in God and is brought into our present world through our faithful discipleship.

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